Deke Sharon of ‘Pitch Perfect’ to Host Workshop at Midland University

Deke Sharon of ‘Pitch Perfect’ to Host Workshop at Midland University

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Kat Sodawasser wanted star power to accompany the first full day dedicated to a cappella for Midland University’s annual Festival of the Arts.

“We were dreaming big about the [Festival’s] competition and we said, ‘Who would be the biggest name in a cappella music to get here to blow this competition and this day out of the water?’ We said, ‘Well, why don’t we try to get Deke Sharon?’ It was really just on a whim,” said Sodawasser, Assistant Music Director for Midland Performing Arts. “I went to his website, sent him an email, and honestly wasn’t expecting a response because I’m sure he’s a busy guy. He responded within an hour and he said, ‘This competition sounds great. I would love to help you start something like this. Let’s do it.’”

Sharon, the musical director and arranger for the “Pitch Perfect” movies, will headline a day devoted to a cappella music on Saturday, Feb. 17, at Midland University. He will serve as a judge for a high school a cappella competition, hold a public workshop, and lead students in a showcase performance to cap off the day.

Five a cappella groups from Brownell-Talbot School in Omaha, Lincoln Pius X High School, and Columbus High School will compete during the festival, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in Kimmel Theatre. Sharon will be a member of the judging panel.

Sharon will lead a workshop that is open to the public at 1 p.m. in Kimmel Theatre. It will offer participants the opportunity to learn about using their voices as instruments and to gain some of his insights into contemporary a cappella music. Cost for the workshop is $20 for the public and $5 for Pathfinder Chorus and Midland University alumni. Tickets are available at the door.

Capping off the festival will be the showcase performance, which begins at 4:30 p.m. Members of Midland University’s Freshnotes and Clef a cappella groups will join the high school choirs to perform a medley of songs by Grammy Award-winning band Fun, arranged by Sharon for “The Sing-Off” television show.

“I am honestly looking forward to that moment the most,” Sodawasser said. “Even though it is a competition, we want to celebrate a cappella music in a way that brings people together. A lot of times, competitions can be intense. What I really hope to have at the end of the day is a moment where we can be like, ‘Wow, look at what we did. We’re making music together.’”

This is the ninth annual Festival of Arts, but the first featuring a full day for a cappella groups.

“It didn’t look like there was much of a competitive a cappella event in this area,” Sodawasser said. “This one is unique in that we don’t limit it to one type of a cappella. We want to welcome all types of a cappella – pop, chamber, vocal jazz and barbershop.”

Saturday morning’s competition and the showcase portions of the Festival of the Arts are open to the public at no cost.

Sharon’s visit is made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.